Magazine article New Zealand Management

Websites That Sell: (Part One)

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Websites That Sell: (Part One)

Article excerpt

Selling via a website can be a low-cost and lucrative sales channel. But it's not as simple as just launching a website with a shopping cart and sitting back to count the cash. It involves carefully thought out strategy, good design, and an ongoing attention to detail.

So how do you create a website that encourages customers to buy?

Understanding how they buy is the first step. Ensuring that your website mirrors a buyer's purchase behaviour will help ensure you maximise sales.

So how do people make purchase decisions? Generally there's a series of stages they go through:

1 Realising a need or desire

2 Researching possible options

3 Ranking options based on objective criteria (price, quality, availability) and subjective criteria (emotional response, brand perception etc)

4 Identifying a supplier (again subjective and objective criteria will come into play here)

5 Transacting the purchase.

Your advertising and marketing strategy will likely focus on the first and second stages above. Well-targeted and executed advertising can help stimulate a need or desire in prospective customers, and promote your company's products or services as a possible purchase. We'll look at strategies for driving traffic to your website next month. But let's focus first on how to convert customers when they get to your website.

Think about walking into a store for the first time. You immediately sense what sort of operation it is. Are the salespeople sitting around talking to each other, or offering to help you? Are things well laid out, easy to find and attractively displayed?

A website is no different. The first time a customer hits your site, they sense what your company is like to deal with. And the first thing that they'll notice is how quickly your site responds.

Staff at TradeMe focus obsessively on keeping page sizes down and ensuring quick response times. I've lost count of the number of websites I've given up on because they've just been too slow or they're barricaded behind a glitzy looking "flash" splash-screen. So, Rule One is make sure your site is fast. Don't let form get in the way of function!

Rule Two, is make it easy for the customer to find what they're after. Easy, clear navigation is critical. …

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